Maintaining your Passion!
I recently started teaching another series of the MIPP’s Introduction to Photography Course and the discussion fell on what discourages newcomers to photography. I gave it some thought and I tried to narrow it down to five main factors which contribute to the failure of beginners to maintain their initial interest and momentum.
Do not blame your equipment (or lack of it). Yes, certain equipment is needed for some genres of photography, such as macro, sport or wildlife, but photography has been with us for nearly 200 years and those photographers who came before us did not even dream of the equipment we have at our disposal today. Yet, the history of photography is brimming with outstanding and iconic work where a basic camera and lens were employed. Auto-focus and the camera Monitor, just to mention two things, are relatively recent inventions.
2. POST PROCESSING:
On the other hand, post processing or digitally editing images after they have been captured with a camera, is here to stay. How can the images of a student of photography, who has no idea of post processing, compete with those of someone who is employing the enormous benefits of fine tuning one’s images? The answer is simply a big “No.” When such newbies compare their images, they are bound to be disheartened. Thus, when taking up photography, or going to learn, one must today perforce interest oneself in image editing. Otherwise, one’s images cannot reach today’s industry standards.
3. SLOW DOWN:
Life has become so fast that most of us rarely pause enough to see the opportunities and the great visual images that are there for the taking.
One can carry a camera around the clock, (which I recommend) but unless one learns and disciplines oneself to slow down and to look at the world a little differently one may never actually see those images. When out taking pictures, fully absorb the surroundings and if something stops you in your tracks, keep the camera down and first use your eyes and your brain. What has attracted you to stop? How can you shoot the subject differently? What do you include and leave out? Is the background complimentary? The list never ends. Yet ask yourself these questions as eventually it will become a natural procedure which will get one into the habit of seeing subjects which otherwise would be ignored. The main idea is to include photography into your daily lifestyle and rhythm, and observe even when the camera is not with you
This is becoming a very neglected part of the photographers of today. Art needs stimulation and knowledge. If we do not constantly research and improve our knowledge, in all spheres of life, our horizons will be as restricted as a horse with blinkers. The more we research on what others have done before us, the more we look at other art forms, the more we read on photography, the more we research themes and concepts, the more our imagination and creativity will broaden. Humans are a product of their conditioning, so how can someone who isolates oneself and is not constantly searching for ways and means to improve his work progress? The more knowledge we have, be it conceptual, historical, technical etc; the more capable we will be to improve our work.
5. NETWORK & COMPETE:
A common gripe I hear is that newcomers are very scared to compete in photographic competitions or even to show their work on social media. Here I totally disagree. Images were not meant to be taken and hoarded by the photographer. Images are taken to be seen, discussed, generate awareness, pass a message. The reasons why we photograph are endless so if one is going into photography being perpetually scared to show one’s images, one might as well stick to philatelly or needlework! Do not be worried about how others see your work, or if you fail in a competition. This is a vital process for a beginner to learn how to improve. If one does not hear critique of one’s work, how can the work evolve? How can a photographer’s confidence grow if the photographs are only seen perhaps by a few close people around him – who would normally be too polite to say what they truly think? So go out there to compete and show your work and remember, even those ‘judges’ started out the same as you.